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Section I

Culture consists, to a large degree, of the media-specific and historically-influenced production and transmission of knowledge and experiences, and it provides a reservoir of long-term convictions from which short-term decisions are drawn and within which they can be contextualised. Knowledge which has been passed down serves as a check on and critic of the present, providing reassurance about one’s provenance and orientation towards the future. Cultures of knowledge, therefore, can be discussed both as an analytical perspective on the production and transmission of knowledge, and also as a historical-descriptive category. They are located within the dynamic context of memory and forgetting, which sets the framework for the formation, storage, and acquisition of knowledge. The historical focus here is on the interplay between a transnational process and nation-specific mechanisms concerning the appropriation and memory. On an individual level, this process also provides a model through which to explore the relationship between subjective and collective remembrance. This section investigates the transnational dimensions of knowledge cultures, transfer processes, and ‘wandering concepts’ from a historical perspective, and critically analyses over-simplified formulations of ‘West-East transfers’. From a linguistic standpoint, it also examines the balance between individual and collective cultures of knowledge, for example through the exploration of collective narratives.   

 Section I also focuses on the ongoing analysis of memory and ‘cultures of remembrance’. In the last twenty years this topic has become a key area of research, thanks in no small part to the numerous societal debates over memory and remembrance (see also the work of the Giessen SFB on ‘Cultures of Memory’ – Erinnerungskulturen – from 1997 – 2008). The theory and practice of collective memory has been intensively analysed, although the related processes of forgetting, whether through changes in media or breaks in tradition, have not always been taken into account. In research on eastern Europe, in particular, there remain numerous under-analysed topics and fields which this section can turn its attention to.

Cultures of knowledge and of memory can lead to the creation of collective identities which draw heavily upon the distinction and differentiation of ‘self’ and ‘other’, and which are often reinforced in real or imaginary conflicts. Section I therefore investigates cultural, religious, linguistic, and national identity discourses in Eastern Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Section Heads:

Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Bömelburg

Prof. Dr. Thomas Daiber